Writing Practice, May 15 2015
Jessie S, the social media addict, the minor Youtube sensation, the crimson-red-head with the eyes that made you forget what elevator you were in, she’d just been on television, man. It seemed somewhat retro and a whole lot of Elvis-in-Hawaii, but she’d been on a game show. She could still feel the tape on her shirt from the oversized faded-yellow nametag. “Jessie S” it read in fat black ink, rounded just so that it was a little too obvious a human didn’t write it. She’d been posting about the game show throughout the entire thing. The show was looking for a connected contestant. She was just known enough to qualify. “Known enough,” was their exact same phrase. She had two hundred thousand followers.
The game was pedestrian. It was mostly a quiz, but there was also a tornado machine. Jessie S already had a few hundred photos of her on Instagram in that thing. “Whateverings,” she whispered to her room. Jessie S–the S standing for nothing–locked the door in her San Fransisco apartment that nobody in the world could afford, and laid straight the hell down on the oversized cheque they gave her at the end. It was made of cardboard, but also of money, conceptually. It represented something, and she’d been suitably excited on TV, though more people would see it on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and other places that were ostensibly not TV, somehow. Mostly, they were different in that nobody who watched her clean house on TV would issue her a direct death threat. She would get those everywhere a keyboard was connected.
The death threats used to come from faked accounts, but the social networks felt pressure from shareholders to protect their users from anonymous threats. So the fake profiles were mostly gone, but that barely stopped the threats. Instead, she just received them from real people with real names, traceable evidence that would legitimately lead back to the real people behind the harassment. Police even arrested some! There were consequences. But there were still so many death threats, all day, every day, and triple on days when anything nice happened to her. She would get a ton of death threats today. She felt them coming as she lay on her giant fake, representative cheque.